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It’s quite common for credit card issuers to offer incentives for adding authorized users to your account. This ultimately gives the consumer more opportunity to use the card and therefore increases the net income for the card issuer. But what’s in it for the authorized user? Today, I’ll cover a few frequently asked questions about adding additional cardholders to your account and examine what I believe are the best cards for authorized users.
Why Add an Authorized User?
- Double your earning — Simply add a cardholder to your account, and any spending they do on the card automatically earns you points, miles or cash back, since their spending falls under the umbrella of your account.
- Hit spending thresholds quicker — Adding authorized users can also make it easier not only to hit minimum spending thresholds to earn a sign-up bonus, but also to hit annual or calendar-year spending threshold bonuses or bonus elite-qualifying miles like the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Mastercard’s 10,000 EQM bonus for spending $40,000 in a calendar year.
- Help someone build credit — One of the great things about adding authorized users is that it gives people who might not otherwise be credit-worthy — whether due to past mistakes or perhaps a lack of credit history — access to a line of credit and a way to build or repair their credit score before applying for cards in their own right. Remember, though, not all credit card issuers report authorized users to credit bureaus, so the impact to a user’s score may be minimal.
- Transferability — Unfortunately, both Amex and Chase have recently cracked down on points transfers, and you can only send your points to the frequent flyer or hotel accounts of a spouse, authorized user or employee for Amex and authorized users living at your same address for Chase. The notable exception to this is Citi ThankYou Rewards points, which you can transfer to anyone (though they expire within 90 days if you transfer between ThankYou accounts, or are otherwise subject to the expiration policies of the transfer partner).
Now that we know why the primary cardholder might want to add authorized users, let’s take a look at why would any of us want to become supplementary cardholders. Here are a few cards that incentive authorized users:
The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum® Card from American Express
These Amex cards easily offer the most benefits to authorized users, however you do have to pay for them. The first three additional cards for the Platinum card have a total $175 annual fee and then each card after that has a $175 fee. The Business Platinum additional cards have a $300 annual fee. For those fees, however, you get all of the benefits of the main cardholder except the $200 airline fee credit. This includes Delta Sky Club, Centurion and Priority Pass Select lounge access; SPG Gold Status, Hilton HHonors Gold status; and Boingo Wi-Fi access. Each card also gets a $100 Global Entry sign-up fee reimbursement, and Business Platinum authorized users receive 10 Gogo in-flight Wi-Fi passes.
This card is great for authorized users who travel frequently and want lounge access around the world. Authorized users cost $50 each and will receive their own Priority Pass Select membership, which allows themselves and two guests free entry to any of the included Priority Pass lounges. Unfortunately, this does not include Admirals Club access, which is reserved for primary cardholders only, but beginning July 23, 2017 no Citi Prestige cardholders will have Admirals Club access anyway (and those who apply for the card now won’t get access either). Authorized users are also not eligible for the 4th Night Free hotel benefit.
While the Citi Prestige Card doesn’t offer Admirals Club access to authorized users, this card has you covered. You can add up to 10 authorized users for no additional fee, and they will each now have Admirals Club access — though some agents may only allow authorized users into a lounge with an A merican Airlines boarding pass. Adding authorized users is a great way to get all your immediate family in the lounge.
Authorized users could do pretty well having this card in their wallet. As an authorized user, you can use the $100 Visa Infinite airline ticket discount and receive Priority Pass Select membership — both perks can be incredibly valuable. You can add unlimited authorized users for free, and they don’t get their own $100 Global Entry fee reimbursement and do not get an additional $300 travel credit.
While not advantageous to the authorized user themselves, having more spenders to help reach large or annual spend bonuses is a great reason to add someone else to your account. The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card also offers Platinum status to the primary cardholder for any year with $75,000 in annual spending. Finally, the primary cardholder can get 10,000 bonus points for adding an authorized user who makes a purchase in the first three months from account opening.
A few other cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred give bonus points for adding authorized users who make a purchase in the first three months, but that isn’t specifically beneficial to the authorized user. Additionally, authorized user benefits are not always clearly spelled out in card agreement fine print. I recommend calling the card issuer before applying to ensure which benefits apply — and even this may yield you different answers depending on which agent you speak with.
Lastly, remember that becoming an authorized user does not disqualify you from receiving a new cardmember bonus, though Chase may count AU accounts as part of its 5/24 rule. Many married couples apply separately to earn two sign-up bonuses and add each other as authorized users to help with spending requirements.
What’s your favorite card when it comes to authorized user perks?
Featured image is of the IAH Centurion Lounge.
The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), up to a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.
- Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
- Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
- 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
- 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
- Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
- Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
- $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
- Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
- $550 annual fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees